Are the 2007 Devil Rays the Best Team Ever?

No? You could have fooled me, going by today’s Grapefruit League finale.

And how about that Ty Wigginton, huh? How come the Mets never have hitters as good as he is?

Yeah, I’m being a snarkburger. It’s an exhibition game it doesn’t count the Devil Rays are in the American League anyway the real season starts tomorrow night Ty Wigginton is a scrubbolith and who cares if the Mets never got anything good for him it doesn’t count it doesn’t count it doesn’t count. Oh, and it doesn’t count. Neener.

But starting Sunday night, it counts. It counts 162 freakin’ times. Am I the only one in the city of Portland who cares? BF cares, by proxy, because I care and he’s a sweetiepoo that way. But had he not met me, would even he care? Not on your life. It’s me. I’m holding up the upper left corner of America for the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Incorporated all by my lalalonesome. Well, okay, me and the guy who sells the Street Sheet, or whatever it’s called, outside the Trader Joe’s at 21st and Glisan and always has a Mets cap on. It’s us, baby. Crowd o’two.

What? You’re in Portland or thereabouts reading this, and you say you do too care about the Mets? By all means, feel free to let me know how wrong I am. It would feel so so good to be wrong about this, to know that others can’t get the New York out of them and don’t even especially want to, and express it in just this way. Yankees gear is the easy way, y’know. This way actually takes a little bit of imagination and feel for the underdog, which is allegedly the way PDXers like it, innit?

So emmyway, it’s prediction time, which I always think is the goofiest, because absolutely nobody ever gets it right. I don’t usually get it right either, but at least I expect not to, because predicting how a baseball team will do is like trying to predict the weather six months from now. Only sillier.

For one thing, not only does “your” team’s roster never stay the same over six months, what with injuries, and players shuttling back and forth to and from the minors, and more injuries, and players coming back from injuries, and players developing mysterious strains of pneumonia and colitis and ADHD and beriberi such as the world has never before witnessed, and trades, and hangovers that never entirely go away, but that is true of the 29 other teams also, including the 18 “your” team will actually face.

And there are always players who do things above and beyond what anyone could reasonably have expected of them, and players whose careers suddenly plunge into the septic tank for no reason anyone could ever have predicted (that danged beriberi again), and there is no rhyme or reason for a speck of it except that the baseball fairies seem to do a pretty good job of distributing their dust surprisingly evenly over the years amongst nearly all the teams, despite various paid-media attempts to get you to believe otherwise. (Although Tampa Bay’s “dust” might always be stuck in the back of the UPS truck.)

Now, the Mets won 97 games last year and ran away with the division. They won’t do that again. They weren’t supposed to do it the first time. So I’ll not bait the fairies and predict a repeat of what no one had a right to expect to begin with. Instead, I’ll predict the same number of wins I predicted going into last year — 92 — based on the fact that despite all the tooth-gnashing about this year’s allegedly wobbly starting pitching, the team only got two good months out of Pedro Martinez last year and will probably get about the same from him this year. And you know they’ll hit. Better than Ty Wigginton, even. I expect them to have to fight for it this year.

But at least they don’t have to play the Devil Rays. Not even once. That’s gotta help.